The Santa Train was a roaring success again this year. As always, it presented its own set of challenges, but the weather cooperated beautifully with temps right around the 60 degree mark and a perfect sunny day. Last year we nearly froze and the year before that we nearly drowned, so this was awesome! It took a lot of work to get the Station cleaned up – all the tools moved, wood stacked, scaffolds folded and put away, bags of insulation packed in the corner – and then setting the “stage” for Santa, Mrs. Claus and the helpers. Furniture was brought in from storage and cleaned, props brought from home, sheets staples to the walls to hide the tar paper and ancient boards. The “office” had to be emptied of all our work stuff and set up for dispensing hot chocolate, cookies, and popcorn. One of our best Santa helpers and his wife even washed the windows! Imagine that! (I wonder if she rents him out?) (Thanks Paul and Sharon!)
We got to try out our HVAC system – so of course, the temps went up to 60 – wouldn’t you know it? For the first time ever, we did not blow any fuses (Thanks, Dennis!) so the coffee pots and popcorn machine did not have to take turns! LOL! We had a wonderful crew of volunteers – I cannot say enough about people giving of their time to do all this… the Santa crew and our members. Wanda B made hot chocolate for me this year – bless her heart. That is a never ending job. Frank loans us his coffee pots which then stay in my van waiting for the next event next week. Shore Bank brings their popcorn machine and Susan serves up bags of piping hot popcorn. Yes, I ate some! PNC donates a load of cookies, and the rest of the dozens of cookies come from our various members. I have to admit I ate a couple of them, too – nothing like a good home made chocolate chip cookie. So it is not on my list of things I am allowed – this only happens once a year!
The crowd starts to gather and grow… with someone keeping an eye down the tracks. And then the magic moment arrives. After waiting and waiting and looking down the tracks, that tiny light that seemed to never move started to get a little bigger. I don’t know who cheered the hardest, the kids or their parents (or us!) Santa and his entourage finally work their way into the building. The long line followed. I bet the chairs felt good. Kids from the tiny to big climb on board and answer such questions as, “Have you been good?” Some of the answers were more honest than others with, “Ummmmm, well, ummmmm, mostly.” Or, “I did my best, honest, Santa, but you know how it is… do you have any little brothers?” It was hard not to crack up. Some kids brought a l-o-n-g list, others ad-libbed as they went along. Niall found a scrap of paper, as we were cleaning up on Monday, with some little kid’s wish list on it. It was a modest list, the spelling was pretty good… I wish him well. Most of the kids, after seeing our trains told Santa they wanted trains for Christmas. I can’t wait until next year when we have our layouts built and running. Our members obviously were not having a good time, right? Who is happier? Finally, a hundred plus kids later, The Santa family head back to the train and the last stop. One of the elves told me they had started out at 4:30 that morning. What a long day! Thanks to all our wonderful workers for helping to make this a success. Its enough to make even me believe in Santa Claus!